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Thread: America's War On The Web

  1. #1
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    America's War On The Web

    America's war on the web
    While the US remains committed to hunting down al-Qaeda operatives, it is now taking the battle to new fronts. Deep within the Pentagon, technologies are being deployed to wage the war on terror on the internet, in newspapers and even through mobile phones. Investigations editor Neil Mackay reports

    http://www.sundayherald.com/54975

    4/2/2006

    IMAGINE a world where wars are fought over the internet; where TV broadcasts and newspaper reports are designed by the military to confuse the population; and where a foreign armed power can shut down your computer, phone, radio or TV at will.

    In 2006, we are just about to enter such a world. This is the age of information warfare, and details of how this new military doctrine will affect everyone on the planet are contained in a report, entitled The Information Operations Roadmap, commissioned and approved by US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld and seen by the Sunday Herald.

    The Pentagon has already signed off $383 million to force through the document’s recommendations by 2009. Military and intelligence sources in the US talk of “a revolution in the concept of warfare”. The report orders three new developments in America’s approach to warfare:

    Firstly, the Pentagon says it will wage war against the internet in order to dominate the realm of communications, prevent digital attacks on the US and its allies, and to have the upper hand when launching cyber-attacks against enemies.

    Secondly, psychological military operations, known as psyops, will be at the heart of future military action. Psyops involve using any media – from newspapers, books and posters to the internet, music, Blackberrys and personal digital assistants (PDAs) – to put out black propaganda to assist government and military strategy. Psyops involve the dissemination of lies and fake stories and releasing information to wrong-foot the enemy.

    Thirdly, the US wants to take control of the Earth’s electromagnetic spectrum, allowing US war planners to dominate mobile phones, PDAs, the web, radio, TV and other forms of modern communication. That could see entire countries denied access to telecommunications at the flick of a switch by America.

    Freedom of speech advocates are horrified at this new doctrine, but military planners and members of the intelligence community embrace the idea as a necessary development in modern combat.

    Human rights lawyer John Scott, who chairs the Scottish Centre for Human Rights, said: “This is an unwelcome but natural development of what we have seen. I find what is said in this document to be frightening, and it needs serious parliamentary scrutiny.”

    Crispin Black – who has worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee, and has been an Army lieutenant colonel, a military intelligence officer, a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff and a Cabinet Office intelligence analyst who briefed Number 10 – said he broadly supported the report as it tallied with the Pentagon’s over-arching vision for “full spectrum dominance” in all military matters.

    “I’m all for taking down al-Qaeda websites. Shutting down enemy propaganda is a reasonable course of action. Al-Qaeda is very good at [information warfare on the internet], so we need to catch up. The US needs to lift its game,” he said.

    This revolution in information warfare is merely an extension of the politics of the “neoconservative” Bush White House. Even before getting into power, key players in Team Bush were planning total military and political domination of the globe. In September 2000, the now notorious document Rebuilding America’s Defences – written by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think-tank staffed by some of the Bush presidency’s leading lights – said that America needed a “blueprint for maintaining US global pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power-rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests”.

    The PNAC was founded by Dick Cheney, the vice-president; Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary; Bush’s younger brother, Jeb; Paul Wolfowitz, once Rumsfeld’s deputy and now head of the World Bank; and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, now indicted for perjury in America.

    Rebuilding America’s Defences also spoke of taking control of the internet. A heavily censored version of the document was released under Freedom of Information legislation to the National Security Archive at George Washington University in the US.

    The report admits the US is vulnerable to electronic warfare. “Networks are growing faster than we can defend them,” the report notes. “The sophistication and capability of … nation states to degrade system and network operations are rapidly increasing.”

    The report says the US military’s first priority is that the “department [of defence] must be prepared to ‘fight the net’”. The internet is seen in much the same way as an enemy state by the Pentagon because of the way it can be used to propagandise, organise and mount electronic attacks on crucial US targets. Under the heading “offensive cyber operations”, two pages outlining possible operations are blacked out.


    Next, the Pentagon focuses on electronic warfare, saying it must be elevated to the heart of US military war planning. It will “provide maximum control of the electromagnetic spectrum, denying, degrading, disrupting or destroying the full spectrum of communications equipment … it is increasingly important that our forces dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with attack capabilities”. Put simply, this means US forces having the power to knock out any or all forms of telecommunications on the planet.

    After electronic warfare, the US war planners turn their attention to psychological operations: “Military forces must be better prepared to use psyops in support of military operations.” The State Department, which carries out US diplomatic functions, is known to be worried that the rise of such operations could undermine American diplomacy if uncovered by foreign states. Other examples of information war listed in the report include the creation of “Truth Squads” to provide public information when negative publicity, such as the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, hits US operations, and the establishment of “Humanitarian Road Shows”, which will talk up American support for democracy and freedom.

    The Pentagon also wants to target a “broader set of select foreign media and audiences”, with $161m set aside to help place pro-US articles in overseas media.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
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    CENTCOM Team Engages 'Bloggers'

    http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2...0302_4370.html

    By Capt. Steve Alvarez, USA
    American Forces Press Service

    MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 2, 2006 – The widespread use of Web logs, or "blogs," by online writers has proliferated information on topics as varied as the authors.

    Blogs, in essence, are online journals or forums for their authors, known as "bloggers."

    Public affairs officials here said thousands of blogs are created each day, and they estimate that more than 21 million blogs are posted on the World Wide Web today.

    Blogs sometimes include information -- accurate and otherwise -- about the U.S. military's global war on terror. U.S. Central Command officials here took notice and created a team to engage these writers and their electronic information forums.

    "The main interest is to drive their readers to our site," Army Reserve Maj. Richard J. McNorton said. McNorton is CENTCOM's chief of engagement operations.

    Anyone who wants a virtual voice can create a blog and share information with the online world. The ease with which bloggers spread information is what public affairs officials at CENTCOM saw when they created the blog team.

    McNorton said the team contacts bloggers to inform the writers about any given topic that may have been posted on their site. This outreach effort enables the team to offer complete information to bloggers by inviting them to visit CENTCOM's Web site for news releases, data or imagery.

    The team engages bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information. They extend a friendly invitation to all bloggers to visit the command's Web site.

    Many bloggers appreciate the team's contact, blog team officials said, and most post CENTCOM's Web site as a link on their blog sites. This, McNorton said, has a "viral effect" that drives Internet news consumers to CENTCOM's Web site.

    "Now (online readers) have the opportunity to read positive stories. At least the public can go there and see the whole story. The public wants to hear these good stories," he said, adding that the news stories the military generates are "very factual."

    From his desk at CENTCOM headquarters here, Army Reserve Spc. Claude Flowers of the 304th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment from Kent, Wash., fights in the global war on terrorism daily in his own way. It is an effort, officials here said, that is making a big difference in the communications arena in the online world.

    The team's motto is "Engage," and Flowers and others work with more than 250 bloggers to try to disseminate news about the good work being done by U.S. forces in the global war on terror. The effort, officials here said, has reached more than 17 million online readers.

    "We were given the mission to do electronic media engagement," Flowers said. "The idea was put forth that so many people are getting their news from online sources that we would be remiss if we neglected that audience."

    Flowers is one of three people who read blogs and try to drive Internet readers to the CENTCOM Web site, where readers can learn more about operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

    "We needed to do something to make people aware of the fact that we had this clearinghouse of photos and information," Flowers said. "We can get the whole story out there. We let them know we have a Web site."

    Flowers said the Web site is filled with informative facts, figures, imagery, data and information that readers can digest before a third party processes and presents the information for them through other media.

    "Certainly anyone is welcome to use the material on the Web site," Flowers said. "So far, the reception has been tremendous."

    Team members said they have contacted a full spectrum of bloggers. In one instance, a blogger was writing about the opening of a water treatment plant in Iraq. The writer was presenting the information as a positive milestone for the U.S. military in Iraq, but the information was not complete. The team contacted the writer and offered information via the CENTCOM Web site, and more information was added to the blog to make the article more accurate.

    In another blog contact, the team wrote a blogger who had written untrue information about U.S. military tactics. The blogger stated that the U.S. military routinely used children in Iraq and Afghanistan as human shields during their operations by using candy to entice and lure kids near them. The team posted a comment on the writer's blog stating that the U.S. military did not use human shield tactics and explained the full circumstances of the incident where Iraqi children died in 2004 when insurgents attacked U.S. forces in Baghdad.

    Most blogs ordinarily have a feature that enables readers to contact the writer or allows readers to post comments. When the team "reaches out" to a blogger, the team members do not conceal their identity. They fully disclose that they are public affairs personnel and identify themselves accordingly. And, McNorton said, they are there to correct information, no more.

    "We don't go in there and get into a debate," he said. And officials here are quick to point out that they are not policing Web sites. They are simply offering bloggers the opportunity to get raw information directly from the source.

    Flowers said that many military personnel have also become bloggers during their deployments as a way to keep friends and family informed on their activities in the war. Here too, the team members don't police content, but if they do discover an operational security violation, they contact the blogger's command to point out the security violation.

    "(Operational security) for a Web site is no different than OPSEC for a letter," Flowers said. "You shouldn't publish anything you don't want everyone to read," he said, adding that the enemy uses open sources of information to wage war on coalition forces.

    But, he said, "The power of military blogs is that they're a letter home from servicemen and women that the entire world can read," Flowers said.

    All bloggers have their niche audience, Flowers said. Some are faith-based, others are military community members, and yet others are involved in mustering humanitarian aid for people in Iraq or Afghanistan. But while the reasons for their blogs differ, most bloggers consistently offer the same comment to Flowers and his team.

    "Repeatedly we hear from people, 'I never would have heard this story in the mainstream media,'" Flowers said. "People really are interested in what soldiers are doing. Blogs are individual statements. They're the voice of individuals. They're a way of understanding this war on a very human level."

    (EDITOR'S NOTE: The author wrote a daily blog for hometown online newspaper Orlando Sentinel as part of his official duties during his yearlong deployment to Iraq in 2004-2005. CENTCOM officials said his blog, the first official U.S. military war blog published by a daily newspaper, helped in conceptualizing the blog team.)
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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